Thursday, October 18, 2012

Koko Crater Botanical Gardens

Koko Crater Botanical Garden is one of five botanical gardens on the island providing visitors with a peaceful escape from the hectic pace life sometimes keeps us on. From parents rattled with busy schedules at work, to the kids with  their school, everyone in the family can find a relaxing escape here at the Koko Crater Botanical Garden. Best of all it's Free!

The family can take a self guided tour along the 2 mile loop trail which takes about 1.5 hours. Come prepared with drinking water, there is a portable restroom available about 1/4 way into the hike.

Koko Crater was formed about 10,000 years ago, and was one of the last volcanic activities on Oahu. Koko Crater is technically a tuff cone, formed by gassy eruption of ash and tuff (fine ash.) Ash, not lava , erupted from the volcano because cool seawater entered the volcanic vent. 

The ash and tuff settled into the ground, solidified into layers of cinder and eventually became the crater that is now this beautiful garden.

 In 1958, Koko Crater was set aside for development into a botanical Garden.  Collections like these occupy 60-acres of the inner slopes and basin of this 200-acre crater site. 

The remnants of the ash create nutrient- rich soil to produce beautiful flowers from all over the world in this garden.

The list of the plants that the family can view on this tour are broken up by region. The family can explore plants from Africa, The Americas, Madagascar, Pacific, and of course Hawaii. 

 The hot and dry climate in East Oahu makes this garden the ideal location for dry land plants like these giant cactus.

Agave plants like the ones in the photo above are native to Mexico and produce tequila and agave syrup. Kids will really enjoy viewing all of the plants and learning about their origins.

 Koko Botanical Garden is open daily from sunrise to sunset. They are closed on Christmas and New Years Day.

Guided groups can be arranged by appointment (808) 522-7063. Also, it's worth a mention there is a horse stable located directly next to the entrance where guided horse back tours are available. If you are interested in booking a 30 minute tour with the family, their website is here.

Koko Crater Botanical Garden is located at the end of Kokonani St. Follow Hawaii 72 all the way down past the , Hanama Bay, Halona Blowhole, and Sandies Beach. Take a left at the first stop light past Sandies Beach and follow  that street through a residential neighborhood. Eventually you will run into the sign for the KCBG.

Enjoy Ohana!  

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Waimanalo Country Farms

Aloha family!,

It has been a while since I have posted an update here on OFA, but I am back with a much better camera and new vision to bring forth ideas for those seeking family activities in Oahu.

Waimanalo Country Farms is known across the island for their special "Dakota Sweet Corn", Festive Corn Maze, Hay Rides, petting zoo, games for kids, and Pumpkin Patch.

As you enter the farm, use caution on the narrow drive way because you don't wanna get into a head on collision with the oncoming traffic. Your car will have to go through small kine off- road action. I did see a Prius and other small cars in the parking lot.

There's no entrance fee, $6 gets a ticket good for one hay ride, face painting, petting zoo, and corn maze. They also have some new attractions like a pumpkin shoot (shooting golf balls at a painting of an angry pumpkin), for $3 extra. Children under 2 are free.

We started off with the hay ride with one of the owners as our tour guide. It's a ten minute ride that takes you through the farms corn fields and the family's past history on the farm.

We listened to the owner tell his interesting story while chugging along taking in stunning views of the Waimanalo Mountain Range and the surrounding torquise blue waters of the Pacific Ocean.

The cool breeze and the beautiful scenery of the ocean and mountains made for a really relaxing time.  There was also this ohana feeling to Waimanalo Country Farms that was missing at some of the other Pumpkin Patches on the island.

Off in the distance of the corn fields, there is a stunning view of Rabbit Island. Don't forget the camera to take some unforgettable shots.

After the Hay Ride we decided to check out their Farm Animal area where kids can feed the animals with bundles of hay. In the animal area, kids can pet very friendly horses and goats through the fence.

The kids had a blast at the petting zoo!

After the petting zoo, we cleaned up and went over see what kind of grinds they had to offer for a snack.
I highly recommend the homeade cornbread and a jar of fresh lemonade  chock full of farm fresh lemons served in a mason jar. The cornbread was made from the fresh corn they grow onsite!

There is also fresh local produce to stock up on to include; corn, Molokai Sweet Potato, jalapenos, and zucchini.

There is also a large play area with a shaded tent so parents can relax and enjoy lunch while the keikis  explore the farm. The fun and rustic atmosphere of the farm provides various activities for children of all ages.

If your looking for a Hawaiian family adventure to the pumpkin patch then look no further than Waimanalo Country Farms. Everyone in the family will fondly look back on this adventure and experience as well.

Be sure to make it out to the Waimanalo Country Farms this October and make some memories with the Ohana!  Bring extra cash for snacks and shave ice for the kids.

41-225 Lupe St
Waimanalo, HI 96795
(808) 306-4379

Monday, March 26, 2012

Manana Trail/Waimano Falls

 Today my daughter and I decided take on the challenge of the Manana Trail to see the epic Waimano Waterfall. Manana Trail is located in Aiea on Koma Mai Drive at the end of a residential area.

As a disclaimer for your families safety, I strongly recommend only those that are physically fit attempt to negotiate the steep, muddy, slippery, and sometimes grueling trail. Come prepared with appropriate shoes, hiking carrier for small children, and plenty of water.

Parking is free and located next to the curb near the houses in the area. This particular home had a pet goat and a giant pig roaming the yard.

The pig seemed friendly and didn't pay us much mind as he nibbled on the grass in his yard.

The start of the hike is easy enough for younger children to walk to the beginning of the decline towards the waterfall. The views surrounding this entry point of the forest are amazing.

Just past the paved trail we came across a sign marking the heading for the Koolau Summit (5 3/4 mi) and Waimano Waterfall that was 1 3/4 mi ahead. From this point the trail is downhill with roots, rocks, and other obstacles to overcome.

For safety reasons, I carried my daughter from this point and took our time to make down to the waterfall. It took us around 45 minutes to reach the waterfall. Follow the signs and markings on the trail. Avoid the unmarked trails that venture down steep hills utilized by hunters.

The steep decent down the trail is appropriately named "Cardiac Hill" by the locals. On the way back up, I quickly figured out why this section of the trail earned its nickname.

Our first view of the waterfall.

There were other hikers there jumping in the tidal pool at the base of the falls. However, this is generally not recommended if you have cuts or open wounds due to leptospirosis

For my daughter's safety we kept a safe distance from the falls. There is a rope hikers can utilize to get down closer if they desire. The short video I took below will give you an idea of what to expect.


Waimano Trail was our second waterfall hike. If your family is looking for a  physically demanding challenge and an adventure with a waterfall, then I highly recommend this hike.  On the other hand, if your family would rather take it easy or if you have multiple small children, then I would recommend Waimea Falls on the North Shore.

I carried my 3 year old daughter for most of the 3 hour round trip hike and wished I would have had a hiking carrier like the ones mentioned on the Recommended Gear Tab at the top of  the page. Nonetheless, the hike provided a vigorous workout with a rewarding waterfall.

Pacific Islands Art Festival

This weekend we went to Kapoliani Park in Waikiki where they were having the 14th Annual Pacific Islands Arts Festival, featuring the multi-ethnic arts/crafts of the islands, craftmaking demonstrations, Hawaiian music and hula.

Festival features the art and handcrafted products of approximately 100 Hawaii artists and handcraft artisans, including all types of jewelry, clothing, stained glass, ceramics, quilts and bags, wood products, soaps and candles. All products are displayed for sale by the artist personally.


Booths included everything from handmade soaps/lotions to beautiful local paintings and children's outfits like the one in the photo above.

The Nostalgic art photos of Hawaii  make great souvenirs or collectables.

After we walked around the booths for bit we decided to check out the live Hawaiian band playing nearby. The performance was very entertaining.

 Hula Dancers prepare for their onstage performance. 

After the Art Fest, our family headed over to Shimazu Store, a popular haunt for shave ice. They are located at 330 N School St open from 11am-6pm.

Unfortunately our daughter feel asleep from all the excitement at the Art Festival so she didn't get a chance to enjoy her mango flavored shave ice with ice cream. 

If you missed this weekends Art Festival no need to fret, there will be one every month. For the schedule head to the Art Fest Web Site. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Makaki Forest Recreation Area

After taking a long hiatus off from blogging, I've decided to continue to pursue my vision of helping folks find things to do with their families in Oahu. I am passionate about helping others find wholesome activities with their families, because frankly- there are not a lot of one-stop resources out there on the Web for those looking for family inclusive activities on the island.  

This week I found time to explore the Makaki Forest Recreation Area, located a short drive away from busy downtown Honolulu and Waikiki.

 Makiki Forest Recreation Area is the location of three trail heads: Maunalaha Trail, Kanealoe Trail, and Makiki Loop Trail. Today, we hiked Kanealoe. There is plenty of free parking in the adjacent parking lot at the base of the trail, or the overflow in front of the sign.

 We started with the mini hike near the parking lot, a very short trail ideal for children and novice hikers.

Along the gravel paved trail there is plenty of beautiful native vegetation and exotic birds chirping away as you make your way through the peaceful hike. This hike provides a great non- strenuous way to enjoy nature and relax.

About a quarter of the way through the trail, my daughter and I came across a family size swing made from bamboo cut from the surrounding bamboo forest.

This trail provides plenty of benches to take a rest if the wee ones get tired or the grown-ups need a rest. 

I found this Hawaiian pepper on the ground near a pepper tree near the end of the hike. After we finished with this hike, we moved on to the Kanealoe Trail near the Hawaii Nature Center.

 After we crossed the bridge with the Kanealoe Stream we took in the calming sounds of birds chirping, the lull of the stream under our feet, and the scent of wild eucalyptus.

Here is a short clip of the beginning of the hike so you can get an idea of the surroundings.

We headed left at the base of two trail heads towards the Kaneaole Trail (0.7 mi/1.1 km), whereas right would have taken us on the Makiki Loop Trail for a total distance of 2.2 mi/1.8 km.

The terrain was semi- muddy due to the rains we have been having on the islands. Rocks and boards are there to assist with footing. Sorry Moms and Dads, you can't bring your strollers on this hike, but check out the recommended gear tab for ideas for great hiking carriers for small children.

The trail has plenty of diverse plant and wildlife to see. We came across this vine canopy that provided us with some cool shade while we took a rest.

Inside the massive canopy.

My daughter came across this sign describing the feral pigs that can sometimes be seen taking drink of water near the stream just off the trail. Apparently, wild pigs have become quite a nuisance to the native Hawaiian Plants and the local government authorizes periods of hunting to keep the population under control.

We were hoping to catch a glimpse of the pigs, but no such luck today.

The peak of the trail ends at the top of the Makiki Loop. We decided to turn around and head back towards the entrance of the park. We were treated with a partial view of downtown Honolulu and the Pacific Ocean.

At the end of the hike there is a station to clean your hiking shoes before jumping back into your car.

Makaki Forest Recreation Area offers plenty of diverse hikes for the family to explore. Take a break from the traffic and hustle of Honolulu to get back in touch with nature. I recommend waiting for a few days with no rain to ensure the trail isn't muddy. Also come prepared with some mosquito propellent and water for the Keikis.

Check out the Nature Center for inexpensive and informative family tours of the trails.

The address for Makaki Forest Recreation Area  is :

2131 Makiki Heights Dr
Honolulu, Hawaii 96822